What is a hirer?

Under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005, a hirer is someone that engages an owner driver (including a tip truck owner driver) or forestry contractor.

Hirers in the transport and forestry industries have legal obligations under the Act and the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Regulations 2017. It is important to fully understand these obligations.

Offences apply to hirers who do not comply with their obligations under the Act and Regulations. Enforcement actions may include warning notices, penalty infringement notices and, in more serious cases, litigation.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Act and Regulations.

Obligation to provide information

Hirers are required to ensure owner drivers and forestry contractors receive important information about their business and their contracts.

Hirers must give owner drivers and forestry contractors a copy of the information booklet that applies to their industry and a copy of the relevant rates and costs schedule:

  • at least 3 business days before the owner driver or forestry contractor is engaged, if the owner driver or forestry contractor will be engaged for a period of at least 30 days
  • on the 30th day, if the owner driver or forestry contractor is engaged for a total period of at least 30 days in any 3-month period.

Hirers must give tip truck owner drivers working in the building and construction industry (regardless of how long they will be engaged for):

  • a copy of the owner driver information booklet at least 3 business days before the tip truck driver is first engaged. Unless the booklet is revised, it does not need to be provided for subsequent engagements with the same hirer.
  • a copy of the relevant rates and costs schedule at least 3 business days before the tip truck driver is first engaged. Unless the handbook is revised, it does not need to be provided for subsequent engagements with the same hirer if the interval between engagements does not exceed 12 months.

If the contractor is engaged through a freight broker, then the freight broker must provide the relevant rates and costs schedule and information booklet instead.

A hirer must also provide any new versions of the relevant rates and costs schedules published by the Victorian Government to owner drivers and forestry contractors as soon as possible after publication.

These requirements also apply to tender situations.

How to provide these resources

The rates and costs schedules and information booklet can be provided in hard copy or electronic form. You could provide a link to this website (www.business.vic.gov.au/odfc), or you could download the documents from this website as PDFs or Word documents and provide them in that format.

You could also print the documents and provide them by mail or in person.

It is important to keep good records to show you have complied with the Act (see section on record-keeping below).

Download a copy of the owner drivers information booklet:

Download a copy of the forestry contractors information booklet:

Penalties

The maximum penalty for failure to provide an information booklet to a contractor before entering into a contract is:

  • $4,130.50 in the case of a body corporate
  • $826.10 in any other case.

The maximum penalty for failure to provide the relevant rates and costs schedule to a contractor before entering into a contract is:

  • $4,130.50 in the case of a body corporate
  • $826.10 in any other case.

If a hirer does not provide the relevant information booklet and/or rates and costs schedule, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) may also make an order that the owner driver or forestry contractor is paid a specified amount for their services under the contract.

Obligation to use written contracts

Hirers are required to enter into written contracts for ongoing engagements if they have no fixed duration or if they are for a period of at least 30 days. The written contract must specify the minimum hours of work or income level the contractor will receive and the rates to be paid. It should also state the minimum amount of notice to be given if the contract is terminated (this generally applies where the engagements are longer than 3 months).

Hirers must keep records of written contracts, including copies of any regulated contracts, the name and contact details of the contractor, the date on which the contractor was engaged by the hirer and the period of engagement. See the section on record-keeping below.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for failure to provide a written contract for ongoing engagements of no fixed duration or for a period of 30 days or more is:

  • $4,130.50 in the case of a body corporate
  • $826.10 in any other case

Obligation to provide notice of termination

Hirers who want to terminate the contract of an owner driver or forestry contractor are required to give a minimum period of notice of termination or make payment in lieu of notice. The requirement to give a minimum period of notice only applies where the engagement proceeds beyond 3 months.

The minimum notice periods are:

  • forestry contractor: 3 months
  • owner driver of heavy vehicle (more than 4.5 tonnes GVM or ATM): 3 months
  • other owner driver: 1 month

There is no requirement to give notice if the hirer is ending the contract because of serious and wilful misconduct by the owner driver or forestry contractor, or if the contractor is ending the contract because of a material breach by the hirer.

Where an owner driver or forestry contractor considers that the notice period is not needed, they may contact the Victorian Small Business Commission. The Commission may then issue a certificate to waive this requirement.

A hirer can choose whether to give the minimum notice period or make a payment instead of notice (how to calculate this payment is set out in the Act).

Hirers are responsible for keeping records of when they terminate an engagement with a contractor. If the hirer provided payment in lieu of notice to the contractor, they must record the date it was provided and the amount paid. See the section on record-keeping below.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for failure to provide sufficient notice before ending a contract, or to make a payment instead of giving notice is:

  • $4,130.50 in the case of a body corporate
  • $826.10 in any other case

Record-keeping obligations

On 1 March 2021, changes to the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Regulations 2017 will come into force. Under the changes, hirers will be responsible for keeping records to prove they are meeting their obligations under the Act.

Hirers are required to keep the following records in relation to each engagement of a contractor and provide them to an authorised officer if requested:

  • copies of any regulated contracts
  • the name and contact details of the contractor
  • the date on which the contractor was engaged by the hirer
  • if the hirer undertook a tender process to engage a contractor, the date on which the tender was lodged and the date the hirer accepted
  • the contractor’s tender
  • the period of the contractor’s engagement
  • if the hirer gave an information booklet or the applicable rates and costs schedule to the contractor, the date or dates on which they were given and any records of them being given
  • if an information booklet or the applicable rates and costs schedule was given by hand, a signed acknowledgement of receipt by the contractor
  • if the hirer terminated the engagement of the contractor, the date on which the hirer terminated the engagement
  • if the hirer provided payment in lieu of notice to the contractor, the date it was provided to the contractor and the amount paid.

Under the ODFC Act, Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers have the power to require information or documents, and it is an offence to fail to comply with this requirement unless you have a reasonable excuse not to.

Penalties

A maximum penalty of $16,522 in the case of a body corporate or $9,913.20 in any other case applies for:

  • failure to produce documents relevant to an investigation
  • unreasonably refusing to comply with an authorised officer’s request
  • knowingly providing false information.

Access to dispute resolution

Under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005, hirers, owner drivers and forestry contractors can contact the Victorian Small Business Commission to arrange fast and low-cost alternative dispute resolution if disagreements arise. The dispute resolution process can be used for disputes arising under or in relation to the Act, the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code of Practice or in relation to a contract.

Disputes that are not resolved by the Small Business Commission may be referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for determination.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria

Wage Inspectorate Victoria is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria is available to provide information and answer queries. Please call the Information Line on 1800 287 287 or email odfc@dpc.vic.gov.au

The Inspectorate supports best practice in the transport and forestry industries. It carries out education, auditing and inspections to ensure that industry participants understand and comply with the Act’s requirements.

Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers

Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers ensure that hirers are complying with the Act.

Officers can require you to provide information or documents, and you must comply with this requirement unless you have a reasonable excuse not to. You must not knowingly produce false or misleading information or documents.

Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers also have the power to enter premises with the consent of the occupier.

Wage Inspectorate Authorised Officers must show their identity card when asked, or when requesting to enter premises.

Penalties

A maximum penalty of $16,522 in the case of a body corporate or $9,913.20 in any other case applies for:

  • failure to produce documents relevant to an investigation
  • unreasonably refusing to comply with an authorised officer’s request
  • knowingly providing false information

Make a complaint

If you have a complaint relating to a transport or forestry contract engagement, you can report it using the Wage Inspectorate complaint form.

You also have the option to make an anonymous report if you suspect someone is breaking the rules relating to owner drivers or contractors but you don’t want to provide personal information.

Can’t find the information you need?

Please call the Wage Inspectorate Information Line on 1800 287 287 or email odfc@dpc.vic.gov.au